Women's Health FAQ

How can I get a pregnancy test?

You can request a pregnancy test Monday – Friday during full-service hours, 8:30a.m. to 5:00p.m. To request a test, call 443-9005 for an appointment – your request will be confidential. You will be asked to give a urine specimen and results will be available in ~20 minutes.

How soon can I get a valid pregnancy test?

The urine pregnancy test used at Health Services is accurate as early as 7 days after conception and is conclusive at 10 days. The tests conducted under laboratory controls are considered more reliable than "home" pregnancy tests.

I have a positive "home" pregnancy test. What should I do?
You can call for an appointment with our Women’s Health clinic at 443-9005. If you are anxious, a nurse can speak with you. All information is confidential. When you see a nurse practitioner or physician, a second pregnancy test will be performed based on the greater reliability of laboratory controlled testing. If the second test is positive, you will be given options to consider. Whether your decision is to continue or terminate the pregnancy, your decision will remain confidential. You will be assisted in selecting outside health care providers in either choice. It is important to note that the outcome is optimal with early intervention in both cases.

How can I get emergency contraception (morning-after) pill (ECP)?
Emergency contraception, also known as "Plan B" or "the morning after pill" is available over the counter at the Health Services pharmacy. Emergency contraception might be effective up to 120 hours after unprotected intercourse, but is most effective if taken within the first 24 hours. Over the counter purchase of emergency contraception is limited to those age 18 years or older; if you are under 18, it is available by prescription. You must show proof of age at the time of purchase. Emergency contraception can be purchased by both males and females. The cost is $50. If you have questions about emergency contraception, schedule a confidential appointment with one of our providers. 

I'm interested in birth control. How can I get more information?

Schedule an appointment with a Women's Health provider by calling 443-9005.

What do I need to do to receive a prescription for a hormonal method of birth control?

Prior to beginning hormonal birth control, you will need to have a complete GYN exam with Pap Test. You can schedule an appointment by calling the clinic. If you have had an exam and Pap Test with your own doctor within the past year, you can obtain a copy of the result; however, you will still need to have an exam in order for us to prescribe for you. If you would like your own doctor to prescribe for you, a prescription can be phoned to the Health Services pharmacy at 315-443-5691.

What does a Women's Health exam consist of and what is a Pap Test?

A gynecological (GYN) exam begins with filling out a comprehensive medical history form which will be reviewed with you when you see the nurse practitioner or physician. The examination will include both breast and pelvic exams – neither is painful and both can be completed quickly. During the pelvic exam, a laboratory screening called a Pap Test will be done. This involves brushing small cell samples from the cervix (the muscle sitting at the base of the uterus along the vaginal wall), placing the sample on a slide and sending it to a specialized lab for review.

Pap Tests are not included in your health fee. You may obtain an itemized bill to submit it to your insurance company for reimbursement.

When should I have my first pelvic or internal exam?

A woman should have her first gynecological (GYN) exam and Pap Test when she becomes sexually active or by about age 21.

I have my first pack of birth control pills (BCPs). I forgot how to start.

You must wait for an established period to start your first pack of pills. Once the quickstart period begins, you will take your first pill on the first Sunday i.e., if your period starts on Wednesday, 6/1 then you will take your first pill on Sunday, 6/5. If your period starts on Sunday, you will take your first pill that day. Keep in mind that it doesn’t matter whether or not your period is in progress when you take that first pill – you are simply initiating your hormonal contraception at a defined point in your cycle. After the first month, you will simply continue the same pattern cycle after cycle – ending a cycle on Saturday and starting a new cycle on Sunday.

When can I consider myself protected?

You can consider yourself protected after you have taken your pills at the same time of day for seven days. Keep in mind that BCPs are a protection from pregnancy only. You must insist on condoms to protect yourself from STDs.

I've heard that some women begin BCPs on the first day of their period and that they are protected from pregnancy immediately. Is this true?

We find that having patients start BCPs on a common day enhances successful adjustment to taking a medication at the same time each day, a commitment that is easier said than done. Further, our patients adjust to this commitment more readily when the start day for each cycle is on a Sunday (first day of the week, a “quiet” day). The majority of pharmaceutical companies arrange pill packs for a Sunday start. The effectiveness of BCPs is related to consistency; therefore, we do not recommend that BCPs be considered effective immediately. We recommend waiting two weeks into the first cycle before relying solely on BCPs as a contraceptive. We also recommend consistent use of condoms to protect you from STDs.

What do I do if I forget to take a pill during the first 3 weeks?

If you forget to take a pill, take it as soon as you remember. If you miss a pill for an entire day, take it the next day and then take your regular pill at the usual time. Do not take 2 pills together as this can cause nausea – separate the two doses by an hour or more. To minimize or eliminate nausea, take BCPs with food. Being late with BCPs may lead to break-through bleeding i.e., bleeding prior to week 4, or "placebo" week.

What if I miss more than one BCP?

If you miss two or more BCPs, it is best to call the Women’s Health clinic (443-9005) as we can assist you in getting back on track without having to discontinue the cycle. Note that you will need to use condoms for the rest of the cycle because ovulation is possible.

What if I want to stop taking BCPs or switch to another form of birth control?

If you wish to discontinue BCPs, it is important that you finish the cycle first unless you are advised otherwise by a health care provider. If you want to switch to another form of birth control or change to another BCP due to side-effects, call 443-9005 to schedule a discussion. Changing to another BCP or another hormonal method of birth control will not interrupt your protection from pregnancy. You simply complete your current cycle and begin the new BCP or method when you would have started your next pack of pills.

What hormonal methods, other than traditional BCPs, are offered at SU Health Services?

In addition to the 28 day BCPs, you can obtain the following:

  1. Ortho Evra patch: a patch containing estrogen & progesterone is applied firmly to the skin. The hormone is absorbed through the skin and is 99% effective when used as directed. The method is based on a 28-day cycle and is interchangeable with BCPs.
  2. Nuva Ring: a soft plastic ring containing estrogen & progesterone is inserted into the vagina where the hormone is absorbed through the vaginal mucosa. The method is 99% effective when used as directed and is based on a 28-day cycle like BCPs & Ortho Evra.
  3. Depo Provera injection: a progesterone-only method, which is injected intramuscularly within the first 5 days of an established period. The method is immediately 99% effective when started in this manner. Injections are repeated every 11 –13 weeks. Women on Depo Provera usually stop having periods. The menstrual cycle resumes when Depo Provera is discontinued.
  4. Seasonale: a new 91-day BCP was approved and came on the market in the fall of 2003. This method combines 4 consecutive cycles (84 active pills) and then goes to 7 days of placebos (inactive pills) which allows for a period. The method is 99% effective and reduces periods to 4 per year. Having only 4 periods per year is absolutely acceptable – there is no biological imperative exists for women to have periods at 28-day intervals.

I have my exams at home and my doctor gives me a prescription for my pills (patch, ring). I ran out and need one month until I see my doctor. Can you help me?

If you are about to run out of your 28-day birth control method, you can be given a prescription for one month. Call 315- 443-9005 for an appointment with a Women's Health provider. If possible, bring the package containing your current method with you to the appointment.

I have my Women's Health exams at home and I am on Depo Provera. I will need my injection while I'm here at school. Can you give me my Depo injections?

We can give you your Depo Provera injection on an appointment basis. There is a charge for the injection. You must provide:

  • Written confirmation of the date of your last Depo injection
  • If possible, a copy of your most recent gynecological exam and Pap findings A record request form is available at Health Services to facilitate your request.

If you have other questions, you can speak with a Women’s Health nurse or provider between 8:30a.m. & 5:00p.m., Monday- Friday. For questions, or to schedule an appointment, call the Women’s Health clinic during the above hours at 443-9005. If calling after 5:00.pm. or on the weekend you will get our answering service. It is best to call during our regular office hours if you have a personal question.